Too Much to Mock

 Posted on October 14, 2010 in Uncategorized

R obert S. Bennett... has a problem.

The Houston consumer lawyer (who... "does some criminal work"-records show him as counsel of record on a grand total of nine federal criminal cases in the Southern District of Texas, and no state criminal cases in Harris County) took on representation of R. Allen Stanford in March, after Stanford had been represented by "lawyers with a Washington firm, a Houston civil lawyer, Houston criminal defense lawyer Dick DeGuerin,... court-appointed public defender [Mike Sokolow] and most recently Houston criminal defense lawyers Kent Schaffer and George ‘Mac' Secrest." (Mac was partners with Robert C. "Bob" Bennett until that Bennett's retirement; Robert S. is not related, as far as I know either to Robert C. or to Robert C. Bennett's son Robert Todd Bennett.) For those of you keeping score at home, that brings the fired-badass count up to four.Allen Stanford Documents

How did this... consumer lawyer wind up representing the lead defendant in a huge high-profile federal white-collar case? Well you might ask; part of the answer is in this email from Bennett to Stanford's daughter, in which he badmouths Kent Schaffer and the Federal Public Defender's Office (including Michael Sokolow, who made the right call):Allen Stanford Documents

At the time Robert S. Bennett came on the case as "concierge attorney" by maligning Schaffer and Sokolow, Houston criminal defense lawyer Mike Essmyer was lead counsel. This lasted until Stanford tried to fire Essmyer in May, but Judge Hittner wouldn't let Essmyer off the case, instead making him second-chair to... Robert S. Bennett.

Then Las Vegas criminal defense lawyer David Chesnoff made noises about coming in as lead counsel, saying "that Stanford has trust in Bennett, but needs an experienced [...] criminal defense attorney to handle the case." That didn't pan out.

Houston criminal defense lawyers Dan Cogdell and Jimmy Ardoin, on behalf of Bennett's codefendant Laura Holt, asked for a severance "because of "circus-like" behavior by Stanford and his current lead [...] criminal defense lawyer." Here's the motion:Stanford Circus Severance Motion

One might get the impression from reading the papers filed by Holt and Lloyds that Bennett and his "Bennett Nguyen Joint Venture" saw the Stanford Defense as a resource to be developed.

Well, they just drilled a dry hole. Yesterday Judge Atlas ruled that Lloyds did not have to pay for Stanford's defense because he likely (for purposes of the civil fight over insurance coverage; the criminal case will be before Judge Hittner) committed money laundering. (Here's a riddle: given the expansiveness of "money laundering," if a D&O policy excludes money laundering, will it ever cover the defense of financial crimes? When?)

Essmyer is stuck on the case, but I'm betting none of these other folks are eager to participate at CJA rates:Allen Stanford Documents

So instead of billing at $800 an hour as the "concierge attorney" managing the highly-paid talent, consumer lawyer Robert S. Bennett finds himself lead counsel in a forced $125-per-hour criminal-defense deathmarch-nothing less than I would wish on a guy who disparages good lawyers to get a case.

He'd better polish up his trial skills.

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